I have finished the automata kit for the Explratorium. It has been interesing making a wooden and card automata at the same time. In the wooden version, the bird closes it’s beak as the neck jerks up, powered by a spring. In the card version, where a spring or rubber band would cause too much friction, the bird closes it’s mouth as the neck moves dowm, powered by gravity.
It’s these subtieties of movment that are the hardest thing to master when making automata. I have 25 years of practise so it’t easier for me but I understand that it is a difficult thing to both convey and put into practise.
A feel for mechanical movment is like the feel for light and shade when painting. It is possible to put it into a theory but in practise it is more of an instinctive thing. I hope that this cut-out is both informative and educational.